In the Trenches: Minimizing Mistakes
I hate making mistakes. Yet I realize that they’re bound to happen, despite our best efforts to get everything right. So, as Cranky Concierge continues to grow, I need to figure out a way to cut down on errors — albeit not for the reasons you may think.
You might assume that we want to avoid mistakes because of how they affect our rapport with clients, but that’s not really it. I’d say that more than 90 percent of the errors we commit are easily correctable. For example, perhaps the name on a ticket is wrong, or our system wasn’t updated to reflect a flight schedule change. Whenever something like this happens, and it does on occasion, we can fix the problem at no cost to the client or to us. Or, I should say, at no monetary cost.
You see, the problem with mistakes is that they take time to fix — time that we really don’t have to spare. If a name is spelled incorrectly, we may have to call the airline, wait on hold, and hope the matter gets resolved relatively quickly. If we have the wrong client contact information for our flight monitoring service, someone needs to research the right details so that we're able to get the information to them when they need it. The end result is always that our clients get what they pay for, but we spend a lot of more time delivering on our promises than is necessary. That’s a waste of our resources. We could spend that time assisting other clients or developing new business.
The last time we had an outbreak of mistakes, I established some double-checking procedures to make sure we caught errors before they became problematic. That strategy worked wonders, but it also took us longer to complete tasks. Still, we don't have a better option right now. We just have to do it. We just don’t have the bandwidth to devote so much extra time to double-checking every detail.
I’m thinking that the next step here is to incorporate technology. I need to find a way to automate some of our processes, but that endeavor seems time-consuming in itself, and some of the systems we use are hard to develop around.
However, I’m guessing that, unless we create means to keep ourselves in check, errors will become more frequent — and thus a bigger problem — as we continue to grow. So, I’m open to suggestions. What are your thoughts?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.